Posts from the ‘culture and society’ Category

To reflect the ongoing structural changes in the adolescent and twenty-something brain, many journalists and scientists use words and phrases like “unfinished,” “work in progress,” “under construction” and “half-baked.” Such language implies that the brain eventually reaches a kind of ideal state when it is “done.” But there is no final, optimal state. The human brain is not a soufflé that gradually expands over time and finally finishes baking at age 30. Yes, we can identify and label periods of dramatic development—or windows of heightened plasticity—but that should not eclipse the fact that brain changes throughout life.

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Whether we can, at this moment in time, meaningfully link this life stage to neuroscience seems a tenuous proposition at best. By itself, brain biology does not dictate who we are. The members of any one age group are not reducible to a few distinguishing structural changes in the brain. Ultimately, the fact that a twenty-something has weaker bridges between various brain regions than someone in their thirties is not hugely important—it’s just one aspect of a far more complex identity.

The Neuroscience of 20-Somethings by Scientific American’s Ferris Jabr (via explore-blog)

As with most things related to the human condition, it is nearly impossible to describe it with one or two words. The brain, an incredibly complex organic computer, can certainly not be summed up by “half baked” at any stage.

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Lions and gerbils sleep about thirteen hours a day. Tigers and squirrels nod off for about fifteen hours. At the other end of the spectrum, elephants typically sleep three and a half hours at a time, which seems lavish compared to the hour and a half of shut-eye that the average giraffe gets each night.

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Humans need roughly one hour of sleep for every two hours they are awake, and the body innately knows when this ratio becomes out of whack. Each hour of missed sleep one night will result in deeper sleep the next, until the body’s sleep debt is wiped clean.

The science of sleep. Also, whoa giraffes.  (via explore-blog)

How I wish to have a giraffe’s sleeping pattern

Life for the winner is more glorious. It enters the next round of competition with already elevated testosterone levels, and this androgenic priming gives it an edge that increases its chances of winning yet again. Though this process an animal can be drawn into a positive-feedback loop, in which victory leads to raised testosterone levels which in turn leads to further victory.

The science of “the winner effect” and why success breeds more success. (via explore-blog)

explore-blog:

NASA’s Curiosity Rover lands safely on Mars. Here’s what it took and how it happened.

Success! Can’t wait for the data to start coming in.

A quality of great art is its ability to guide attention from one of its parts to another in a manner that pleases, informs, and provokes.

E. O. Wilson (via explore-blog)

I love the smell of the universe in the morning.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, who has his very own Explore tag.

Hear him at his most eloquent.

(via explore-blog)